Jim Scharosch

Photo by Michael Cravens

I was born in 1964, and I have lived in Iowa since I was very young. Around the age of eight I discovered my first bullsnake, and a lifelong love of reptiles and amphibians followed. Growing up within walking distance of an automobile junkyard that was built on top of a sand prairie allowed me and my friends the opportunity to catch a lot of bullsnakes, blue racers and garter snakes each summer. Snakes were put into a big communal cage, kept for a few weeks, and then returned to the junkyard. It wasn’t the most responsible herping, but it was a different time. A lot of time was spent during this period reading the only real snake book I had at the time, called “Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada” by Karl P. Schmidt; published in 1941. I dreamt of catching a pilot black snake, a four-lined chicken snake or a yellow-bellied king snake. The ultimate dream for me though was catching a corn snake.

As I grew up, I lost interest in herps for a while. I got back into it when my then girlfriend, now wife, Laura was taking a Natural History of Animals class at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She wanted to impress her professor by holding a northern banded water snake they had captured on a field trip. When she told me about her experience, I said, “Hey, I know a little something about snakes!” That got us both into the herp world. We got into it when the snake pet trade started to grow in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I kept and bred a lot of snakes, including the corn snakes I always wanted to catch when I was young. I kept quite a few varieties of sand boas also. It took a few years for me to figure out that the reptile breeding business wasn’t really for me. I liked the snakes, but not the salesman job.

During this time period, I did a little bit of field herping also. I always enjoyed getting out and finding stuff, but when I decided not to collect anymore, it was kind of anticlimactic to just find stuff and let it go. At some point Matt and I came up with the idea of doing a journal website of the stuff we found so we could share our finds with others. Now as an adult, I get to find a lot of the stuff I dreamed about finding as a child, and share photos and stories with other herpers around the country.

I live in Center Point, Iowa and work as a system administrator at the Gazette, the newspaper in Cedar Rapids. As I stated before, I am married to Laura, who loves herps also and is a sometime herping partner on our trips. I have a teenaged son Austin, who herps with me whenever his busy schedule permits. His picture is on a couple of pages on the site. I keep a couple of cornsnakes and a couple of Kentucky locality kingsnakes. I play bass and sing in an original music band called knubby, practice a Chinese martial art called Wing Chun, and assist with law enforcement physical skills instruction for Halligan’s Combat Training Systems.

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